tv Tavis Smiley PBS June 27, 2012 12:00am-12:30am EDT
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, our conversation with kristen johnson. she recently released a memo that he tells some difficult times in her life and how she overcame them all. the book is called "? ." -- "guts." >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
tavis: please welcome kristen johnson to this program. her new show airs at 10:00 p.m. on tv channel. here's a scene from "the exes." >> i can i keep doing this. this is the third time this week you have been over here about your problems. i am not your mother. arms up. >> thanks. that was scary. >> i tried to reason with them. they will listen. >> what are you talking about? all i do was listen because you won't stop talking. >> all right. ok. boys.
you want my help? here's my suggestion. the three of you need to go to couples therapy. >> you mean like marriage counseling? >> exactly. i will be the number of a terrific family therapist that i recommend some clients to. she is in my building. >> i guess i would be willing to work on us if they are. airwhen you put us in e quotes like that, it makes me want to run into traffic. >> they are my former clients. i am a divorce attorney. i help each of them with their divorce. because this happens all the time, i happen to have a free apartment across the hall that i was going to move into at one point. i gave them a place to stay. each one kind of came at different times. now all three of them live there together. tavis: so you are not their
mother, but you sort of. >> they are den mother. it is kind of tragic. >> and the attorney andu the landlord -- >> yes. and their boss. i get involved in all of their stuff to their detriment. tavis: is this how you drive to returning to television? >> you know what? it is really funny. i am not blowing smoke. this is the finest i've never had any money job. it is a good time. i am ready for now. tv land is so supportive. it is an amazing place to work. they actually like television shows, which is so weird. [laughter] i'm used to people kind of going -- but they just love it and they come to every taping. so it is this fun experience. wayne and i are getting to
connect again. and i just love these actors. basically, the biggest jerk on the set is me. [laughter] you cannot be it. tavis: and you are on the call sheet. [laughter] dga misses the television? -- did you miss television? >> when "barack" and it i thought i was done. i wanted to be a few directors. i kind of didn't like at the time the whole alien thing and it felt so weird to me and i was not used to it. it took a long time to catch up. i went back to new york. i also became a veracious addict. but that is a separate story. i'm sure we will touch upon it any moment. tavis: we will delve into it. >> aside from that, i got back to new york and did plays and
loved it. i was so happy. and i was offered very juicy television situations that i passed on because i was not ready. a few years ago, i did a guest star on new christine, that tv show. and i was like i am home. this is what i do. this is what i do. i knew i had to come back. tavis: i know this because i have read this a few times that you were not really ready for the success that came with "3rd rock." >> it was a shocker. i think television fame -- you might have experienced this. tavis: i have no frame. come on. you are famous in my said. it is a very different thing. it is just a different animal.
i could be in an airport lobby with made robin and julia roberts and no one would look at them because it is a tv thing. it is a familiarity. people will talk at you. that is her, that is the girl from -- i know good time here. and sometimes negatively. one guy was like, oh, she got paid. -- she got big. [laughter] i'm right here. i can hear you. television is so weird because you are in their living room. there is an intimacy that i was not prepared for. i had no understanding of it. i have said this before. honestly, the best way i can describe it is that it was as if my life was two blocks ahead of me for five years. i could not get there. i ran so hard, but i couldn't
ever get there. and i got there. tavis: i was being flippant when i made the comment that i have no fame. >> i know. tavis: the one thing that i do appreciate about the work that i do one pbs, for that matter on public radio and the books i have written -- >> is this your show or mine? way to plug yourself. [laughter] i'm kidding. hold the book up, but all the wrong -- i'm sorry. i'm kidding. tavis: you can bust my chops any time. [laughter] i was making the point that i have talked with a lot of friends who are famous actors like you and the one thing that i do appreciate is, before they walk up to me, they appreciate your work. he made me think and the interview about so and so -- i
am not try to be snotty about it. but i don't think that i can handle, to your point, because people recognize year -- >> and you're an alien and you are weird. walking into a hotel lobby at the bar, if anybody is drawn, it is hell. [laughter] o, my god. but you are absolutely right can certainly, with what i was saying -- with movie stars, there is a -- they come up to them and they talk to them, but it is still a separation. and for me, the flamboyance of the character or whatever, it was very difficult. i walked around for years with a baseball hat, you know. and now i don't care. tavis: and you are paul. >> i have literally been in
full ski gear. and they're like i love your show. tavis: you don't regret the character though. >> i do not regret anything i have ever done in my whole life. tavis: even drugs? >> let's supplely bring that in. don't slap on everybody appeared not just your crack. tavis: there is an authenticity of that. i remember talking with natalie cole. she said to me, i don't regret. >> i never want to go back there. tavis: exactly. >> it is not even that. i didn't like it very much for a long time. there is a reason you do it. there is a good part of it. but then it is quickly bad. but then you have to continue to do it to keep saying, to keep
from detoxing. it is really bad. but to answer your question, the thing is, i do not even know what i was talking about. hold the book up again. tavis: white is so -- and i mean this -- what is so arresting about this text is that you rarely read anything where the author is being dishonest, this authentic, this graphic, this much in detail. you read this and you feel like you're on the bathroom floor with you. >> thank you. tavis: you nailed the park. -- that part. >> that is a picture and ex- boyfriend took of me. i did it for fun. i'm not a writer. i am your reader. i did not want to do the fog -- they wanted to do roman
numerals 12. i want to write a book the way i want to see the book. so i did all of these different covers and different ideas for titles, the towering inferno and it went on and on. but then i thought guts. tavis: but why spill all your guts? >> there are a couple of reasons why. the biggest reason is that i am so sick of the shame that surrounds addiction. and i don't think that there should be shame. the only chain with addiction is it you don't -- once you have the knowledge, you don't self care. if you have a keen and you didn't go to your chemo, your immediate. if you're an addict and you don't take your chemo, whether it is a a meetings, whether it is therapy, whatever it is for you, then you're an idiot.
but the disease itself is not my fault. it's no one's fault but i think it is brain chemistry. tavis: i want to press you on that. you don't think that any of the addiction has to do with choices that you made? it is all chemistry? and it is chemistry, you didn't indulge chemistry with the trusses that you made? >> oh, you're confusing me. i believe it is absolutely brain chemistry combined with two events. you have to have this crossroads. this is my opinion. i am not a doctor, although i pretend i am all the time. it is a crossroads between access -- in other words, i have migraines and then your son dies, a dramatic event. or a depression, which was my case. and i had access.
so those two things combined anyone in the world could go there. tavis: i know people are curious about this because i am asked this question when i talk with people on the program. how is it that someone of your success and your access could have been depressed? >> be miserable? tavis: yes, how does that work? >> it is an awful thing when you know you should be happy. i look back on it and i look at that person and think, what a great show and how cute she was. i cannot believe i just said that. that's obnoxious. tavis: but it's true. >> it is true, but it doesn't make it less obnoxious. i did not understand it i tried to explain it in the book. it was like the rug was ripped
out from under me. i was left alone in a closet with myself all of a sudden because all of my ambition was gone because i was successful in a way i had never imagined. and that had kept me kind of chevy along and -- kind of chugging along and not paying attention to who i am and being a self exam and person. then this thing landed in my lap and i just got over whelmed with sorrow. i was a grieving for the person i will never be again, which is the unseen. tavis: that is the irony of getting into your book, the fact that you acknowledge -- i guess it isn't that strange -- that is, you acknowledged that you
wanted to the famed. >> i guess when i was a kid. tavis: yes, you wanted it -- >> and not take it away. i loved everything about being a famous actress accept the famous part. but you cannot say that ever to anybody. they worked their butts off at a fast-food joint and there are people with a lot more. it is a champagne depression. but it was very real and it was five or six years of real true sadness. i didn't get the sense that there is anything you think you could have done differently to prepare yourself for that. >> being in the state of a famous person or whatever, it is not natural, i don't think.
i just don't think that we were meant to have that. the fame that it is now, the magazines, the tabloids -- tavis: it's out of control. >> and became famous ride at the start of the madness when there were 20 million magazines or whatever. it just overwhelmed me. i just didn't want it could what i thought fame meant was that, when you wanted to be famous, you could be. and when you didn't, you weren't. and then it was a tough blow. tavis: like a spigot you turn on and off. >> exactly. unfortunately, it is all the time -- and fortunately. to be totally honest with you, i actually really enjoy it now. not in a creepy way. i don't want more and love it.
i just enjoy it. i like people again, probably for the first time in many years. i love people. i just love it now. i love talking to different people and people are so nice. asia link said this to me and this is actually -- a shrink said this to me and this is? we have it boils down. one of the main issues i have around the "3rd rock" fame, i was a freak when i was 12 years old. i was this fall. i saw people -- i was this tall. i saw people pointing at me and it was kind of like "look at the frick." -- "look at the freakl." and it made me think of grade
school. now it is more like kindness. tavis: he is one of the greatest guys. >> yes. tavis: you are on this show and it seems to me there is a guy that is in close proximity to you who is a levelheaded -- who doesn't take this stuff too seriously and has another livfe. >> it was such a great atmosphere for that. i didn't know what was wrong. i was not self-exam and enough to say -- everybody knew i was struggling. i was sad and neuheisel. moody.as sad and neuheise but to john, one of the greatest moments in my sabrah life was when i got to tell john that i was sober. i saw him backstage at a play he
was doing. hellos, isaid our hollow said, john, i'm sober. and he burst into tears. he was so happy for me and so relieved. it was so touching. he said the reason why it was so difficult for me to get help was because i was so functioning. you wouldn't know it on camera. i would be exactly this person. but afterwards, i would be like -- tavis: are you one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason? >> i only believe in, and fate. -- in karma and fate. tavis: so what is the reason? >> does. -- this. tavis: the book.
>> the amount of people who of gotten sober just from reading it. tavis: i will ask your question that i know you will be honest about because that is the way you are. >> that is how i roll. tavis: is a difficult to stay sober? >> it is something that i have to watch, especially in situations like this where there's a lot of press going on, lots of stuff, lots of being pulled in different ways. they are so respectful of me at "the exes." i can say this is too much for me. tavis: and they pull away. >> they are very respectful. i am trying to keep my life in a way that is sane and not too crazy and not too heavy. that is the part where i get
kind of loss. tavis: the goal of the -- i want to hear more about this. >> when i got to rehab, basically, i was struck. who was it? if you're not drunk when you show up at rehab, well -- that's a joke. is that him laughing? oh, good. all right. [laughter] tavis: i just wanted to throw you off. >> gee, she was really blowing it today. all right, so i am smashed and i get out of the car and a look around and i thought he had dropped me off at summer camp. when i sobered up a few days later, i talked with a counselor and he said this is what all rehabs look like. that freaked me out.
there were a few terrified 35- year-olds. but for the most part, there were these kids, oxycontin and scherwin, whatever. i became good friends with joe shrchrank. if anybody out there has questions or is struggling, they should go to his website. it reviews rehabs. it is a really great web site. he is a dear friend of mine. he said there are 35 sober high schools in the united states. there are four in the boston area. there are zero in your city or state. for five years, i have been doing this. i have been working to get it done. it has been very difficult.
i could have made it a private school and gotten donations. people really want to help. but it needs to be public. it must be a public school. i insist. it must be available for whoever wants it. here's the scary thing. according to a columbia university recent research, one out of every three teenage kids in america meets the medical criteria for eviction. one in 70 teens will go to rehab. if a kid goes to rehab and then goes to a regular school, you just should flush down a grand. 80% in the first month. but if the kid goes to a sober high school, 70% of them graduate drug and alcohol free. no-brainer. it is really an amazing thing. so i started my own board
because i was on another one and that kind of fell apart. the last two years, i have gotten together this amazing group of people. if anyone wants information is slamnyc.org. it is a really great thing we are trying to do. tavis: it is a great thing. that is why i wanted to talk about this. we could talk about this for hours. >> is it over? tavis: yes. >> say it again. what more do i got to say? tavis: and there you have it. [laughter] kristen johnson is the author of the new text. you have to read it. it is a routing a lead called "guts." and the second season of the new show is called "the exes." i love tv land. there you have it. that is our show for tonight.
>> thanks, guys. i bet some many people are plowed watching this. tavis: keep the faith. >> i want tennessee. >> you already own all the railroads and utilities. >> i need tennessee. i need it bad. >> you just need to be the big man, don't you? you know what, tommy? it is the little ones, the ones who labored to build houses on the baltic and mediterranean, the ones are happy just to get a bank error in their favor, they are the ones, tommy! they're the ones to own this country. >> $400 and might get out of jail free card. >> thank you very much. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation about party with peter edelman. that is next time.
we will see you then. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. >> be more.